You’ll Never Walk Alone

Joy. Amtrak now offers you a free copy – take it, they’ll replace it – of Travel Mall, the land version of Sky Mall, the catalogue chock full of useless and semi-useless stuff. Now we can add perusing it to our list of diversions en route to wherever we’re headed, along with yakking on our cell phones, listening to Ipods, watching DVDs and playing games on laptops, and on occasion, working on spreadsheets. And on really rare instances, reading. Newspapers. Books.

The Holiday 2008 cover has a grinning man in his jammies sporting Geordi La Forge like eye gear. Page 5 explains:

Worn like regular eyeglasses, the iWear AV310 Widescreen and AV920 from Vuzix connect to almost any video-capable mobile device including iPods, iPhone, portable DVD players, digital cameras, and cell phones. Simulating a high-resolution large screen viewed at nine feet, you can now have an incredible movie watching or game playing experience anywhere, anytime.

Starting at only 249.95! Now who wouldn’t want to have that? A simulated movie and gaming experience trumps the Chesapeake bay or Hudson river any ole day.

I do enjoy thumbing through these magazines when I first board a plane and now a train, but do we really need all the gadgets and objects – stuff – offered? Do we really need to be so distracted by all these toys? For that is all this is: distraction.

While I do not mean to be glib about the emotional and physical insecurity wrought by a free falling economy, perhaps one good thing that would come out of it is that we would no longer waste our money and time on wares peddled by Travel Mall. We would no longer afford such silly distractions and be forced to face, brace yourselves, silence and being alone.

We would not be able to purchase item no. 74067J.

The Animatronic Singing And Talking Elvis.

This is the animatronic Elvis, a singing and talking robotic bust adorned with The King’s trademark leather jacket, sideburns, and pompadour, recalling the musical icon’s performance during the highest-rated television event of 1968–Elvis Presley’s Comeback Special. The device sings eight of Elvis’ most acclaimed songs including Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, and Jailhouse Rock, and the mouth, eyes, and head movements are synchronized with the music, replicating his unique facial expressions (including the curled upper lip) and baritone voice. Integrated infrared sensors in his jacket detect ambient motion, prompting Elvis to say “Bring it on back now” or another famous Elvis remark as you walk by, and the device has 37 monologues recorded from interviews that play at a touch of a button, each reflecting on the life and career of The King. A karaoke feature allows you to sing along with Elvis and the device has an audio port for connecting an MP3 player or another audio source, allowing you to play your own music through Elvis’s 10-watt speaker. Includes a remote control, 1/4″ microphone jack, and an AC/DC adapter. Remote requires three AAA batteries. 20-1/4″ H x 13-3/4″ D x 21-3/4″ L. (10 lbs.)

For only $199.95! Oh, but there is that mortgage, car payment, credit card bills, utilities and food to pay. Thank goodness.

While a high tech visor and Elvis homunculus might be fun, adult toys and stuff hawked by these travel “malls” betray our desperate need to be diverted and avoid what is before us. Undeniably, for our mental health, mindless amusements are sometimes welcome and needed, but I suspect that those of us who actually call the 800 number or log in to http://www.SkyMall.com have more that one item from the collection. Plus other objects of distraction.

Are we really that scared of silence and stillness?

It really isn’t that bad. I suggest dumping our diversions once in a while and learn to enjoy their absence. It can be liberating, calming and can bring about a smile. For only $0.00.

Image of Sky Maul from Doobybrain.com.

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